Pata Pata

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"Pata Pata"
Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba German vinyl single.jpg
Artwork for German vinyl single
Single by Miriam Makeba
from the album Pata Pata
ReleasedNovember 1967
Songwriter(s)Miriam Makeba and Jerry Ragovoy
Alternative release
Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba (US vinyl).png
A-side label of US vinyl single

"Pata Pata" is an Afro-pop dance song popularized internationally by South African singer Miriam Makeba. "Pata Pata" is credited to Makeba and Jerry Ragovoy. Her most popular recording of "Pata Pata" was recorded and released in the United States in 1967.[1][2] The song is considered by many to be Makeba's signature hit and it has since been recorded by many artists.


The song's title "Pata Pata" means "touch touch" in the Xhosa language, in which the song was originally written and sung.[2] "Pata Pata" was also the name of a style of dance that was popular in the shebeens of Johannesburg's Townships[3] in the mid-1950s. The dancer crouched before his partner and patted her body to the rhythm of the music as he rose up and she spun around, making hip circles.[4][5] In another version of the dance,

The male dancers stand in a row with their arms extended out to the front, palms to the floor, while the women pat each in turn in a manner resembling security search body-frisking, after which the men do the same to the women.[6]

Makeba's "Pata Pata" was not the only song inspired by the "Pata Pata" dance.[7] Her "Pata Pata" melody was based on an instrumental "Phatha Phatha" by Shumi Ntutu and Isaac Nkosi, which was in turn based on "Noma Kumnyama" by Alson Mkhize.[7] The popular 1956 "Ei Yow Phata Phata"[8] by Dorothy Masuka was distinctly different from Makeba's,[7] but in later years, Masuka made her own recording of the version made popular by Makeba. Masuka claimed that she herself had written it.[9]


Makeba's "Pata Pata" was originally sung, recorded, and released in South Africa by Makeba's girl group The Skylarks[10] in either 1956[11] or 1959.[7]

In 1967, after establishing a successful singing career in the US, Makeba re-recorded the song with Jerry Ragovoy producing, and with an added spoken part in English. Ragovoy was then billed as the co-writer of the words and music.[12] It was released in the United States on Makeba's studio album of the same name.[2] It was also released as a single and peaked at #12 on 25 November 1967 on the Billboard chart. The flip side song was Malayisha.[13]

This version's English language content includes a description of the origin of the dance:[14]

Pata Pata is the name of a dance [sat si pata pata] We do down Johannesburg way [sat si pata pata]

And everybody starts to move [sat si pata pata] As soon as Pata Pata starts to play - hoo [sat si pata pata]

The second spoken recitation goes:

"Every Friday and Saturday night, It's Pata Pata time. The dance keeps going all night long, til' the morning sun begins to shine."

The original (1967) version of "Pata Pata" is included on Pata Pata (released 1972), The Best of the Early Years (Miriam Makeba), a collection of 24 tracks released in 2002 by Wrasse, and the 40-track compilation Her Essential Recordings: The Empress of African Song (2006 Manteca).

In 1988, a duet version with Chayanne was recorded. It was included in the album Chayanne. In 1990, Makeba re-recorded the song for her own album Welela. Makeba also released a renovated version of the song, entitled "Pata Pata 2000", in her 2000 album Homeland.


Makeba's 1967 version was successful on the Billboard Hot 100, and peaked at No. 12.[15]

On the night she died, Miriam Makeba performed "Pata Pata" just before she collapsed on stage.[16][17]


Charts (1967) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100 12
US Billboard Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles[18] 7
Venezuela 1
Iceland 12

Other versions[edit]

Popular culture[edit]

  • In 2009, Honda used the song in a television commercial for their 2010 Accord Crosstour.The song was recently used in an episode of Season 2 of the television series “White Lotus” on HBO


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  3. ^ "King Kong, Kwela, And The Shebeen Queens". New Internationalist. 1 April 1981. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  4. ^ Tenaille, Frank (2002). Music is the Weapon of the Future: Fifty Years of African Popular Music. Chicago Review Press. ISBN 9781556524509.
  5. ^ Ansell, Gwen (28 September 2005). Soweto Blues: Jazz, Popular Music, and Politics in South Africa. A&C Black. ISBN 9780826417534.
  6. ^ Lucia, Christine (26 March 2009). The World of South African Music: A Reader. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. ISBN 9781443807791.
  7. ^ a b c d Allingham, Rob (2009). "From "Noma Kumnyama" to "Pata Pata": A history". African Music. 8 (3): 117–131. doi:10.21504/amj.v8i3.1831. JSTOR 20788931.
  8. ^ Gallo Music (2 April 2015), El Yow Phata Phata, archived from the original on 16 March 2021, retrieved 10 September 2017
  9. ^ "The Originals © by Arnold Rypens - PHATHA PHATHA".
  10. ^ Monahan, Kevin (13 September 2012). "Monahan's Song of the Week: Miriam Makeba: Pata Pata (1967)". Monahan's Song of the Week. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  11. ^ Williams, Pat (6 July 2017). A personal memoir of South Africa's legendary musical. London: Granta Books. ISBN 978-1846276538.
  12. ^ Popular Music: An Annotated Index of American Popular Songs. London: Gale / Cengage Learning. 1 June 1987. ISBN 0810318091.
  13. ^ "Miriam Makeba". Billboard.
  14. ^ "Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata" – via
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  16. ^ Press, CELEAN JACOBSON, The Associated. "South African musical legend Miriam Makeba dies". Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  17. ^ "SINGER MIRIAM MAKEBA DIES AFTER COLLAPSING ON STAGE". Amoeblog. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  18. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 373.
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